Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stop Defending Yourself and Start Defending Your Marriage

Review of the Mental Health Act 1990Image by publik15 via Flickr

When your partner accuses you of doing something wrong, it's natural to want to defend yourself, even if you know you are wrong. Why? You want to say that you are a good guy (or gal) and that you had a good reason for what you did. You want to say, "Even if I am wrong, I am a person of worth who does (mostly) good things. Do not condemn me."

The problem with this stance is that the focus is on the wrong issue. Typically your partner is trying to tell you that he or she has been hurt and that he or she feels distanced from you. By defending your self-worth you miss the opportunity to soothe your partner's pain and give a clear message that you want to be close.

I regularly encourage couples to defend the relationship, not themselves. Yet, when they focus on listening to their partner's viewpoint and feelings a funny thing happens - they find they are able to hook their partner's caring. When the discussion centers on caring, then condemnation fades away.
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